By Shawn Ness | October 17, 2022
Toward the end of August, President Joe Biden passed an executive order eliminating up to $20,000 in student loan debt for up to 40 million people in the United States, including about 2.4 million New Yorkers. A beta application is currently available on the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website to assist in “refining processes” before the official launch later this month.
University at Albany front fountains
Photo Credit: UAlbany Website
According to the Federal Student Aid (FSA) debt forgiveness webpage, the U.S. Department of Education is providing up to $20,000 of debt relief for individuals that have received Pell Grants and up to $10,000 in debt for borrowers that have not received Pell Grants.
Pell Grants are a need-based financial aid program aimed at undergraduates from low-income families to assist in paying for higher education and do not need to be repaid. According to University at Albany Director of Media and Community Relations Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, about 42% of UAlbany undergraduates receive Pell Grants.
Borrowers are only eligible for debt relief if their income is less than $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for households. Borrowers will not receive more relief than what they owe.
According to a Siena College Research Institute poll, approximately 56% of New Yorkers are in favor of Biden’s plan to eliminate student loan debt. Two UAlbany students shared their thoughts on the matter.
“I think it’s a great idea,” UAlbany senior Sarah Engel said. “I think that a bunch of people need forgiveness to be able to get on with their lives and not get stuck with college debt.”
“Life’s not fair, I guess that’s just how it is,” UAlbany student Julius Beliz said. “A lot of people who took out loans went to school when they were younger… and then paid it off [already].”
The Biden administration released a preview of the debt relief application on the official White House Twitter account. A tweet reads, “the student debt relief application will be: short and simple, no supporting documents or FSA ID [is] needed. [It will be] available in both English and Spanish, and on both mobile and desktop devices.”
According to Collegeboard’s college pricing trends, the cost to attend both four-year public and private colleges has nearly tripled since 1980. Nearly 80% of the cost of a four-year degree were covered under Pell grants among students and working families. Now, they only cover 33%.
According to the White House Loan Relief Fact Sheet, the average amount of debt for an undergraduate student is nearly $25,000. “[Increasing costs] have left many students from low and middle-income families with no choice but to borrow if they want to get a degree.”
“The best way for students to stay informed of developments about the program right now is to follow the instructions on the Federal Student Aid website to determine their eligibility and sign up for notifications when the application is live – likely sometime this month,” Carleo-Evangelist said.
Carleo-Evangelist recommends students reach out to the Student Financial Services (SFS) office with any questions. Student Financial Services will also share additional information with students once the university reviews the official application, but UAlbany will not have any direct involvement with the loan forgiveness process.